The ABC 20/20 news story is riveting — a revealing look at why there are so many fewer women than men in India. Reporter Elizabeth Vargas traveled to India to bring this story of what is called “Gendercide” home to a stunned American audience.
Here are the numbers: An astonishing 50,000 girl babies are aborted each month. One millions girl babies die every year. Over 40 million girls have been killed through sex selection abortions, neglect or outright murder in the past decades.
The main reason for male preference is money. Indian culture demands that a woman entering a marriage provide a dowry. In order to avoid impoverishing the family, girls are simply eliminated. Sex selective abortions are not used just by poor families, however, as middle and upper class families also seek ultrasound to guarantee the birth of a son.
Vargas explains that India has laws against ultrasounds to determine the sex of the baby, and sex selection abortion itself is illegal. These laws are so poorly enforced that Vargas walked down street after street and saw signs everywhere offering ultrasound services. “There are even technicians who pack portable ultrasounds and travel to villages offering their services.”
Vargas traveled to a village to view the long-term impact firsthand. “Everywhere we looked, we saw boys, young men, old men, but very, very few women. It was unsettling, especially because we knew this was not some freak of nature, but a results of the deliberate extermination of girls.”
Some girls who are “lucky” are born and abandoned, taken in the middle of the night to a “drop box.” Vargas says one drop box “is at a place called the Unique Orphanage in Punjab. We went from the village with no women, to the orphanage with no boys. There are only girls here…60 of them…all cared for by a wonderful woman who will raise each and every one…No one knows their real birth date, so once a year they have one giant birthday party for everyone. As we left the orphanage, I thought back to a temple I visited days earlier where newlyweds make a pilgrimage, to kneel and pray. Not for wealth, or long lives, or success. They pray for a baby boy, and not for a girl. Some of them are willing to kill to make that wish come true.”
A chilling story with enormous moral and demographic consequences that breaks one’s heart.
You can view the ABC News story here.